Alabama Officials Warn to Inspect Boats Before Taking Them Out This Summer
Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2019.
A day out on the water in Alabama can easily turn into dangerous boat accidents injuries without the proper safety precautions. Inspecting your vessel before taking it out this summer could make all the difference. In 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard recorded 4,291 recreational boating accidents. These accidents caused 2,629 personal injuries, 658 deaths, and over $46 million in property damages. Protect yourself and others from boating accidents this year by carefully inspecting your boat before hitting the water.
Lifejackets and Safety Equipment
In an April 30th, 2019 article, District Captain Jon Wells of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary warned boaters to take equipment and vessel inspections seriously before taking boats out on the water each year. Months of disuse while the boat is in storage could lead to many different problems – including dry rot in lifejackets. You do not want to discover holes or dry rot in your life jackets as you are pulling them out to use after an accident. Instead, inspect all safety equipment on your boat before going out on the water.
If you notice dry rot, rips, tears, or holes in life jackets, throw them out. If you take children on your boat, have them try on life jackets to make sure they still fit. Life jackets will not work properly without a snug fit. It may be time to upgrade kids to bigger or adult life jackets. Also check other safety equipment, such as life rafts, floats, ring buoys, and whistles. Make sure everything is in good working order and present on the boat. Finally, check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher.
Your boat’s engine may need a tune-up after being out of commission all winter. First, check your fuel lines to look for any build up of oil in the engine. Your diesel engine is a relatively simple piece of equipment, but it needs regular maintenance to ensure reliable service. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to maintain your engine. Make sure that all gauges are working. That way, you can notice immediately if your boat is losing pressure, overheating, or in need of more gas. Diesel engines work hard and under extreme pressure, requiring frequent oil changes. If it is time for an oil change, get one before going out on the water.
Electrical malfunctions and fires are common causes of recreational boating mishaps in Alabama. Before you take your boat out, inspect all of its wiring and connections. Check for any signs of corrosion, cracked wire protectors, or frayed wires. If you have bare wires or wires sealed with electrical tape, it could be a fire hazard. Pay for professional electrical repairs before taking your boat out this summer. If you are not confident in your ability to inspect your boat’s electrical system safely, trust an electrician to do so for you.
Turn all lights on and off to make sure they are working properly. All recreational boats in Alabama must have required navigation lights displayed between sunset and sunrise. If the weather is foggy or rainy, a boat must also use its navigation lights. Your boat must have red and green sidelights and an all-around white light. If your lights are not functioning properly, repair them before going out. Even you are planning a daytrip, you must be prepared for bad weather with working lights.
Schedule a Free Vessel Exam
The U.S. Coast Guard offers free vessel exams to make sure boats meet the minimum state and federal safety requirements. A professional vessel examiner can look at your craft, inspect it thoroughly, and point out issues you may need to fix before taking the boat out on the water. Call your local district to schedule a vessel exam near you. The exam will not lead to legal action against you. Instead, it will give you a list of what you need to fix, as well as assistance getting your boat in ship-shape to sail. If your boat is safe, the examiner will give you an official safety decal.